Explains about the warzone in the emergency department doing good during those times to bring people together in the community and a hero being honored by the state of colorado for all his work .This was submit to the house of representatives and this story has been shared in schools such as fredrick highschool by students who look up to him thank you
I was a freshman in high school when we had the first COVID outbreak. I remember when my mom had to explain to me what was going on. It happened so fast I was just a confused and scared kid. Then I found out we had to go online. I missed a big part of my freshman and sophomore year of high school because of COVID. I lost contact with a lot of my friends. It was a very rough time not just for me, but also my parents. It was a very big change. I want to say the time sucked, but I try to think of the positives that came out of it. By one being I got a lot closer with my family. We were always close, but through COVID we only had each other. So, I try to think of the positives that happened throughout the pandemic rather get sad and think of all the things I have missed out on.
As lock down and social-distancing mandates were initiated in the spring of 2020, I was living in a tiny apartment in West Philadelphia. At the time, I was finishing my dissertation, which is a historical account about the ways in which another pandemic, HIV/AIDS, impacted the lives of children born with the disease, their families, and the healthcare workers that cared for them. Given that my entire life – work and personal – was crammed into a roughly 400 square foot apartment, I began taking long walks through the area of West Philly where I lived. These walks were mostly meant to help my mental health – sometimes they worked, other times they did not – and to relieve my cabin fever. From roughly March through June of 2020, I began taking photos of pandemic-related things that appeared on my walks. Save for my photo of the empty Target pharmacy shelves, the pictures – along with my journal entries and a small collection of pandemic-related ephemera – were an effort to document how the pandemic impacted my small part of the world. I also took them as a way to help me remember this era-defining event.
This story is about the proliferation of digital communication after the pandemic.
My husband’s cousin got married outside Cincinnati, Ohio in the fall of 2020. The invitation said the event was outdoors, and we expected it would be small. My husband and I drove his mother across multiple states so she could be there for the ceremony and celebration.
We had some hope that people were being mindful of pandemic precautions, as most establishments required employees and patrons to wear masks in shared spaces, and there were plenty of signs, paid advertising and graffiti, that suggested locals were disappointed by the botched handling of the pandemic to that point. Spray paint scrawled over a Trump campaign poster reading “Trump lied and my mother died” was especially memorable.
When it came time for the actual wedding however, all hopes that the wedding guests would be responsible were quickly dashed. Ignoring signs and pleas from the woman at the hotel’s front desk, guests waited for the “party bus” in the hotel lobby, maskless and chugging White Claws, then leaving the empty cans for the same woman to clean after the bus arrived. We had hoped that these guests were going to a different wedding, but when it became apparent we were all going to the same place, we opted to drive ourselves to the venue, not wanting to be in close quarters on the bus to and fro with these fools.
The small, intimate wedding we were expecting to attend had over 150 guests. The ceremony was outdoors as the invitation mentioned, but the reception was zipped up in a large party tent, and the only ones wearing masks were the three of us. I took a picture of the guest list, not so I could remember at which table I was supposed to sit, but so I would know who to sic the Health Department on when I inevitably tested positive for COVID in the following days.
In March of 2021, my girlfriend and I went to the beautiful island of Aruba. I had been several times prior, but this was her first trip there. Neither of us had traveled outside of the US since the inception of the pandemic and we both were a bit concerned.
I think some of the concern came from getting so much varying information. Who to believe was always a bit of a question. Several friends had gone prior to us and had very different experiences. The real disconnect seemed to be about getting their required return test for COVID.
Several of the people we spoke with displayed their anger at how the test was administrated. They stated the brush had “gone into their brain”. Understanding the exaggeration made the concern no less worrisome.
Despite what we heard, we went anyway and had an amazing time. Aruba is one of my favorite places in the world and I had been several times before. Being familiar with many of the spots helps navigate and lessons with anxiety.
Two days before we went home, we arrived serious to take our tests. The bush seemed to be of normal size and my girlfriend bravely went first. She came out and jokingly claimed that it really hurt. The cruel joke caused me some concern, but I went through and was surprised to find no problem at all.
We had a great time, and perhaps the lesson learned is to explore things for yourself to find the right answer to your questions.
This is a story about the first time I traveled post COVID restrictions lifting. This story comments on how isolating the pandemic felt to many of us and thus the importance of traveling once we were able to. This particular story is important to me because it was the first trip I had taken by myself as a newly moved out adult.
As the world slowly emerged from the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, life began to regain a semblance of normalcy. With restrictions lifting and vaccinations becoming widely available, my family eagerly embraced the opportunity to reunite with loved ones and explore the world beyond the confines of our home.
After our children became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, my husband and I decided to embark on a memorable journey to visit family in Chicago. The decision was influenced by the fact that Illinois had taken the pandemic seriously, and the situation seemed relatively stable.
The excitement in the air was palpable as we packed our bags and set off on the adventure. The journey itself became a testament to newfound hope and optimism, a stark contrast to the anxiety-ridden days of lockdown. The rhythmic hum of the Amtrak train and the gentle swaying of the carriages created a soothing backdrop to our anticipation. After almost three days on the train, we finally reached our destination.
As we settled into the rhythm of Chicago life, we found ourselves enchanted by the city's rich history and vibrant culture. The streets echoed with the footsteps of generations past, and the architecture told stories of resilience and progress. Our children's eyes widened with each new discovery, absorbing the lessons of the past and the beauty of the present.
The museums became classrooms, and the parks transformed into playgrounds of learning and exploration. From the towering skyscrapers to the serene shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago opened its arms wide, inviting our family to immerse ourselves in its tapestry of experiences.
Over the course of two weeks, we marveled at the diversity of the city, the pulsating energy of its neighborhoods, and the friendliness of its people. The world-class museums, the iconic Millennium Park, and the deep-dish pizzas became integral parts of our family's collective memory.
The reluctance to leave grew with each passing day, as Chicago had become more than a destination; it had become a second home. The connections made, the lessons learned, and the memories forged painted a picture of a city that had welcomed our family with open arms.
As we boarded the Amtrak train to return home, a mixture of gratitude and nostalgia-filled our hearts. Chicago had been a beacon of joy and discovery during a time when the world needed it most. The journey had not just been about a visit; it had been a transformative experience, a reminder that even in the face of adversity, there was always the possibility of finding beauty, connection, and a sense of belonging.
The trip to Chicago amid the COVID-19 pandemic symbolizes a shift from a period of uncertainty and isolation to one of hope, reconnection, and exploration. That being said, the nervousness still set the undertone to the trip. The eligibility and administration of COVID-19 vaccinations mark a significant turning point in our family's ability to travel. It really shows the importance of vaccines as a tool for regaining a sense of freedom and the ability to engage in activities that were restricted during the height of the pandemic.
The exploration of Chicago's history, culture, and landmarks communicates our desire for new experiences and rediscovery of the beauty in the world. The trip became almost like a metaphor for the broader human experience of seeking joy, adventure, and learning, even after enduring a period of hardship. As we chose to travel to a location where the pandemic was taken seriously, it is clear the new considerations the pandemic has led families to consider. This almost suggests that communities and regions that take the pandemic seriously create an environment that fosters a sense of safety and encourages responsible travel.
We were so grateful to get to travel to Chicago, and it is undeniably one that we will remember forever.
Our wedding was on Leap Day, February 29th, 2020. The honeymoon followed shortly after with still whispers of a pandemic possibly looming. It was the newlywed phase of ignorance, but the pandemic was still viewed as something that wouldn't happen. We first went to Napa Valley without seeing one person wearing a mask in public. Traipsing around vineyards and imbibing on wine also helped stave off reality's harshness. When we arrived in San Francisco for the week, we realized maybe this was bigger than we realized. Walking the busy and heavily inclined streets, you would see about 50% of the people wearing masks and whipping out their hand sanitizer every so often. However, once we started walking through Chinatown, that number nearly doubled.
Still, we somehow were not phased. Why would we be? We were on our honeymoon with an endless supply of matcha ice cream, dim sum, walking, sights to see, and more walking! The city was still bustling and alive; you could barely notice the Grand Princess cruise ship loitering in the bay for days, waiting for permission to dock that never came. The cancellation of a Warriors game? Oh well, our boat to Alcatraz was still ready to set sail! On the last day of our trip, we noticed a couple of restaurants closing early, with one owner asking, "Don't you know what's happening?!" On the last day of our trip, we decided to take the long drive home and go down the Pacific Coast Highway, stopping at Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. In walking the streets and making our way to Monterey Bay Aquarium, we were shocked by the sight of people in hazmat suits spraying the exterior doors of the building. This image would later replay on the news once we made it home. They implemented strict lockdowns and travel restrictions within the hour of crossing back into Arizona's borders. We were so lucky we made it back home just in time and didn't realize until we made it home just how oblivious and ignorant we were.
Looking back, I cringe at our naivety. Those concerned people wearing masks in Chinatown? Some of them would later become victims of racism due to COVID fearmongering. That ice cream shop we frequented? Vandalized and destroyed. That curious cruise ship at the time claimed seven lives and infected over 100 people. Once we were home safe and realized this pandemic's seriousness, we stayed home. Within a couple of weeks after returning home, we found out we were expecting, bringing even more intensity and fear. The carefree attitude and carelessness, as exhibited on our honeymoon, were now met with complete awareness of the pandemic and the strictest adherence to lockdown guidelines. We didn't travel again until our pandemic baby was two and a half years old—all of the innocence of life before COVID was forever gone.
When the COVID-19 travel restrictions were lifted, our family immediately headed for Aulani, A Hawaii Disney Resort – this was already planned as a Christmas gift (‘21) for Spring Break (‘22). In fact, upon arriving, we found out that the lockdown for the island was going to be lifted the very next day. So masks and other PPE were not necessary when moving about the exterior hotel. In fact, events around Oahu (Polynesian Cultural Center) were also relaxing C-19 measures for tourists and all guests. Small precautions were still in place, like one family in the elevators at a time, no character meet and greets (with full contact), and masking indoors. Due to Hawaii being landlocked, the importance of C-19 measures meant we all had to do our part to stay covid free. We were happy to do whatever it took.
Our memories of this trip were refreshing. It was nice to get out of the house and to the islands (not the desert where we are from), experience and learn the culture of Hawaii, take in a little dose of Disney, and be mask-free, even with precautions being taken in some areas (which we were okay with).
I was a SSG in the US Army when the lockdown hit. The isolation let my personal demons almost get the best of me, but lessons were certainly learned and I pray we never get to that point ever again.
The pandemic has altered the way I view and interact with people and places. Although I have always been cautious of germs, illness, personal space, and keeping healthy, the pandemic has heightened my awareness. I am now turned off and disgusted by the thought of crowed spaces, movie theaters, gyms, airports and other places with heavy traffic. I no longer have interest in activities I once enjoyed and participated in.
This has affected how I travel and how often. I once loved traveling, visiting new places, trying new restaurants, interacting with communities, and just being a “tourist”. After the pandemic restrictions were lifted, I had no interest in traveling and enjoyed being at home. Home was comfortable and safe. The first time I traveled after the pandemic was in 2022, I traveled to California to attend a conference, visit some museums and to do touristy things. I did enjoy my experiences, but it was truly exhausting. I was constantly worried that I had caught COVID or that I was going to catch it. By the end of the week, I was ready to go home and recover from the anxiety I had. It has been a year since that trip.
In May of 2021, after nearly eighteen months of being apart, I was finally able to visit my mom and dad in Spokane, Washington. After driving five hours across Washington state, I finally arrived at my parents house. To say the least it was a very emotional greeting. When I arrived we greeted each other with many hugs and tears. Throughout the day we would just give each other random hugs, happy to be together again.
My parents live in a retirement community that was very careful and followed the Covid recommendations to keep the residents safe. I was considered an essential worker as a grocery store worker. I didn't want to take the chance of exposing them to the virus since I worked closely with the public until I received the first vaccine. I also have two sisters that live in Spokane and were able to see them too. We still had to wear masks in most areas but that did not matter. Getting the family together, after such a long time, was all my mom could ask for on her special day. Happy Mother's Day.
During the heat of covid, the spring of 2020 through the fall of 2022 I worked for our local school district in Arizona. My family and I did not do a lot of traveling beyond the necessary during the mandated restrictions. After the bulk of the restrictions were lifted and vaccines were widely available I participated in a work trip to San Diego to attend a convention. My partner and I decided to springboard off this and turned the summer into a west coast road trip to visit with friends and family. We started in San Diego and the highlights of this trip were Portland, Oregan, Seattle, Washington, and San Jose, California.
On our jaunt along the coast there were still precautions being taken. Many people still wore masks out and were positioned with more space in public. Of the people we visited and stayed with on our journey, some were still social distancing, and taking precautions when going out.
Our adventure was a good way to reconnect with the people we hadn’t been able to see during the lockdown. My partner and I were able to visit some important places from my childhood and have some epic picnics. There is a lake and small national park near my Grandparents’ home that is open to the public. The tree cover and water line is cut with an easy hiking path. We got to traverse about a mile of it. Taking in the beauty that could easily have been featured in a fairy tail description of an ancient forest. It was a great way to break the isolation and share some of the past with my partner.
This story is about travel that did not happen, but should have during the Covid-19 Pandemic. In mid-2020, my little sister Sarah was diagnosed with kidney cancer. She was married and had 3 children up in Seattle. When my family heard the news, travel was severely restricted and many people were still dying daily from the virus. I have my own wife and kids, so we all agreed that it wasn’t a good risk to go and visit. Besides, we reasoned, she hadn’t started treatment yet and she had good chances of beating cancer. So we waited it out. My sister and I talked frequently, and she told me that she was optimistic about her cancer diagnosis. Unfortunately, our Dad died in January of 2021 due to complications related to Covid (he had Parkinson’s also), and neither of us could travel to do any funeral service. In April of 2021, the pandemic had cleared up enough that most travel restrictions had ended, everyone was vaccinated, and the risk was lower. My older brother Sean had planned a trip to go to Seattle and stay there for a month to visit, help take care of kids and just be there. He urged me to go, at least for a week or so because he told me that he thought it wasn’t going as well with her treatments as Sarah had led me to believe. Because of Covid patients overwhelming hospitals, I don’t think she was getting as much good-quality medical care as she needed, though that’s my opinion. Anyway, I didn’t want to go on this trip. I don’t particularly handle death and dying well, and I didn’t want to go there and be basically sad and crying the whole time, and I was in denial about her health, so I didn’t go. A few months later, in June 2021, Sarah succumbed to cancer and died. If I could go back in time to do it over again, I definitely would have gone. I would have liked to walk around Seattle with her and take pictures to put on Facebook, our primary means of sharing memories, or take her kids out for a few hours to sight see and get to know them better. I regret, and always will, that I did not go and see her and her family there at the end.
In late July 2020, my wife (then girlfriend), my family, and I took a trip to Sturgis, South Dakota for the annual Black Hills motorcycle rally. During the trip, we traveled to Red Lodge, Montana, where we spent two days riding our motorcycles into Yellowstone National Park. Of all the memories we made on that trip, driving on Beartooth Pass, one of the most dangerous roads in the United States, was my favorite. The views were stunning and the ride was exciting, with near-vertical dropoffs and few guardrails. In South Dakota, the only COVID-19 restriction in effect was mask mandates inside restaurants and stores; in Montana, there were no restrictions.
During the pandemic, I was lucky that I didn't lose anyone close to me. I know many people around me and in the world who watched their loved ones die from COVID-19. It has also had long-lasting health effects on many people as well. It is an ongoing conversation because people are still contracting the virus daily. Lockdown was a surreal moment for many in our ordinarily fast-paced world. The entire world stopped, and for once, we couldn't rely on our usual entertainment and schedules for distraction. This led to the development of new habits, which, unfortunately for me, were not just board games and binge-watching Netflix.
Alcoholism had been at my doorstep since my senior year of high school, with my dependence on the substance worsening as the years passed. This is a genetic condition, and I have had countless family members struggle and die because of substance abuse, mainly alcohol. When the pandemic hit, I drank nearly every day, and this continued during lockdown with my roommate and a few friends. Not only was this dangerous because of the spreading pandemic, but it also worsened my mental health. Soon, my college shut down, and I had to move back home, where my substance abuse continued. My relationship had fallen apart when my ex moved back to India as he was on a student visa. The drinking and emotional isolation/strife led to a breakdown wherein intrusive suicidal thoughts plagued me. Something had to change; one night, I quit all substances and contacted my PCP about a mental health evaluation. I know my diagnosis was wrong, but it got me on the medication I needed to forget the intrusive thoughts and piece my life back together.
My saving grace was my father and, eventually, my friends, who decided to pick me up and give me a distraction. This distraction became hiking mountains, a shared hobby of previous substance abusers. The chemicals released in the brain during these hikes and the physical exercise filled the void alcohol used to. It served it and began to heal the void left by years of mental health struggles and abuse. Like in this picture, the world's problems and my own seemed small when I was on top of a mountain. Not only that but also hiking is a very social-distance-friendly activity. The love for hiking fostered in my childhood was rekindled during the pandemic and remains one of my favorite things to do. My father and I are attempting to walk up all New England's notable peaks.
I've written a story sharing our Covid trip to Iceland that we were able to take after the restrictions were lifted. I don't think we would have gone if the circumstances were different, it was a life-altering trip for us, something joyful in the midst of a world crisis.
During the COVID-19 pandemic I was working in health care for an agency. This meant that I traveled from facility to facility where there were staffing shortages and predominantly worked in the covid units. It was a strange experience to travel across Pennsylvania during this time and have little to no traffic that would typically have existed were there not any restrictions enacted. Therefore, when the restrictions were lifted, I did not feel an urge to travel to any great extent as I never stopped working during the lockdowns and if anything, my hours were significantly increased to the point of constant exhaustion. However, when the restrictions were lifted, I found myself in need of outdoor therapy. I am an avid hiker and enjoy the silence that trails offer. I have found that my favorite trail to visit is the Golden Eagle Trail, or as my children refer to it “Rattlesnake Ridge.”
While the restrictions were lifting in most places at the time, I hardly noticed because in health care they remained for a much longer period. On many occasions in 2021, my family accompanied me to the Golden Eagle Trail to step away from society and unwind as a family without feeling the pressure of all the changes that were brought about by the pandemic. These trips provided me with lasting memories of my son reaching for my hand for security when walking along a thin train with a steep drop alongside it, my husband helping steady me across slippery rocks, and more. The photos from these trips are everlasting reminders of the happiness that hiking, especially with my family, bring me.
Moments like these are to me the important moments in life.
My family and I were very cautious during the pandemic and waited a long time before we chose to travel both as individual families and as an extended family unit. We finally decided to travel with a family trip to Disneyland. We have a wide range of ages in our family from over sixty-five to under ten years of age and we wanted to find a place that would have something for everyone. We appreciated the fact that at Disneyland the vast majority of the vacation would be spent outside and we all live relatively close to the location helping with travel anxieties. The fact that the place is excellently maintained helped lessen many of my family members' fears of going out for the first time. The time was very enjoyable and everyone had a wonderful time. There was still the lingering fear of not wearing a mask at all times and walking around the park without a mask did take some getting used to however it was a wonderful way to reenter the world of traveling.
In reference to the photograph that I placed in the archive -
The photograph does not show the park or us on the trip due to keeping our privacy. However, it helps to represent what this trip meant to my family and myself. The Disneyland Starbucks mug and pins represents the fact that we often bring back souvenirs from our trip in order to remember our time together. The Peter Pan funko is to illustrate the adventurous spirit, joy, and freedom that we had been unable to experience during the time of Covid restrictions.
Finally, Disneyland holds fond memories of family, joy, and adventure as a child so it was wonderful to re-enter that world on my first experience back traveling after the exile imposed by Covid.
It was in the late summer of 2020, and we thought that we would have the whole park to ourselves by going during the pandemic. We were wrong! It was as busy as it usually was, however people were keeping their distance from each other, and everyone was even more courteous than usual. The park required masks inside the buildings, but didn't enforce it outside. Many of the usual amenities inside the buildings were closed, and they were working with a skeleton crew. When we were waiting for Old Faithful to do its thing, many people were keeping to their own groups rather than packing in to see the geyser as they typically did before social distancing was a thing.
I am submitting a short antidote regarding an individual being upset by being asked to wear a mask on a ferry. This could be important to show how some people resisted COVID-19 restrictions, but this event's importance to me is nonexistent.
In the timeframe of the slow lifting of restrictions from the Covid 19 pandemic and shutdown, my family and I were less inclined to engage in travel, at least originally, than we had been before the pandemic. The luxury of just having the freedom to meet with local friends and re-engage in the simple pleasure of taking in a movie at the theater or going shopping at the mall were enough. Eventually, desire to see family that had been cut off from us because of the pandemic encouraged me to take the plunge and fly to visit my sister in my boyhood home state of Wisconsin, a place I had not visited in over twenty years.
The plane trip itself was a strange mix of familiar experiences such as checking in my luggage and going through airport security combined with new experiences of wearing a mask in the airplane at all times while regularly using hand sanitizer whenever interacting with people or objects potentially infected with Covid 19. Despite being personally vaccinated, the act of traveling in this way felt both isolating and risky. To be masked up while still being in such a confined area as an airplane after the isolation of staying mostly at home for most of a year felt like a flimsy defense against the potential threat from Covid 19. Isolation from one another still seemed to be the new norm for people, with minimal conversations between strangers. Otherwise, the flight itself was uneventful.
Once in Wisconsin, my sister and I spent most of the time visiting locations of my childhood. Places such as our former family farm now owned by a distant cousin, or the creek I learned to swim in or the elementary school I had attended before moving away to Arizona, which had been turned into a recycle center that looked more like a dump than a school. Much of our time was spent talking and reminiscing about the past. Essentially reconnecting in person rather than through text messages or the occasional Zoom call.
When we traveled to more public locations such as restaurants, a local baseball game, or Fourth of July fireworks, it was apparent that despite health protocols being strictly followed in locations like airports, local mask regulations had been greatly relaxed. While essentially all staff members were wearing masks, the majority of patrons tended to be without masks. While hand sanitizer was available in the restroom, it seemed fewer and fewer people were using it. It was once again a strange combination of familiar experiences such as ordering a meal with the overtone of pandemic restrictions such as staff masks hovering over your shoulder like a ghost, present but less and less substantial.
Overall the trip itself was enjoyable, but was mostly an opportunity to reconnect with family while at the same time reassuring myself of the relative safety to be able to travel once again. Eventually, as more restrictions were removed and the increased access to vaccines made Covid 19 less of a fear and more of a nuisance, other family trips to tourist destinations such as San Francisco or Disneyworld became once again a normal part of travel for myself and my family. But my first trip after restrictions began to relax, there was definitely a reminder that the reality of Covid still hovered over our heads, even as we began to move closer and closer to new normal in our post-Covid world.
As a survivor of COVID-19 with long-lasting damage, this memory still brings feelings of anger and fear to the surface. It takes place at a family cabin that was the epicenter of many happy memories all the way from childhood through becoming a parent myself. That first trip back forced me to see all that COVID-19 had stolen from me and would continue to steal from me for the rest of my life.
I've included a text story and video of the first time I traveled since the the massive Covid lockdown in March 2020. This text and video are important to me because not only was it a brave thing to do after being confined for so long, but it was also a defining moment in my adult life. I am now married as a result of that trip.
After travel restrictions were lifted, my family and I took a trip to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for an early summer vacation! While we spent most of our time outdoors in the Great Smoky Mountains, we did go to a few “indoor spaces,” such as Dollywood Amusement Park, The Island in Pigeon Forge, Anakeesta, and various restaurants. We visited in June of 2021; the most evident restrictions still present were in Dollywood. While there is always a restricted number of tickets available for Dollywood due to fire and safety protocols, when they opened up after Covid, they had a very limited number of tickets to give more space and distance for the customers in the park, which was nice! There was not much waiting in lines for rides, stores, or concession stands, and we were able to keep our distance from other people. While a few smaller stores asked for masks, masks were not mandated in the two cities or any of the places listed above, and no other types of restrictions were evident in the area. My family and I did our best to stay safe and comfortable during this time and to keep the people around us safe. We chose to spend most of our time outside, surrounded by nature and wildlife!
As an Active Duty Soldier during the COVID-19 pandemic I was able to travel; albeit my movements were extremely controlled and job-related and not for leisure. On 13 March 2020, when the entire Country literally reacted to and shut down due to COVID-19, I was out of town and hours away from traveling back to my duty station. The sudden reality we were all faced with felt like The Twilight Zone, especially since it was also a Friday. In May of 2020, I drove to my hometown of San Antonio, TX. My mother was a COVID patient in the ICU, and I needed to get home to help take care of my father. Thankfully, my mother recovered, and I returned to Tennessee, where I was stationed at the time. The COVID restrictions from Tennessee and Texas could not have been more different; whereas Clarksville, Tennessee treated public separation and mask-wearing with a laissez-faire attitude, San Antonio was very strict with its public safety ordinances. A few months later, I deployed to Iraq; transiting to and from the Combat Zone was extremely restrictive. Prior to the Pandemic, we could enjoy local sightseeing if we had a layover in Spain or Germany; naturally, during COVID we were confined to our lodging.
However, in January of 2021, as travel restrictions began to lift ever-so slightly, I participated in a unit training exercise in California. To my surprise, we had to fly commercially to Las Vegas, NV. To ensure 6-foot separation, we were each allowed our own rental vehicles, and our own hotel rooms while we trained in the California desert. In all my years in the military, that was the only time I wasn’t required to share a rental or hotel room with anyone.
After we had concluded our training, we commuted back to Las Vegas. The original plan was to use military lodging on Nellis Air Force Base, however our Commander allowed us to find our own hotels in Las Vegas, as our flights would not depart for Nashville for another 36 hours or so. At that time of course, no one was traveling or booking rooms; I was able to find a room at the 4 Queens Casino on Fremont Street for forty dollars a night. This turned out to be far more cost-effective to the US Government, as we would have paid around ninety dollars a night had we stayed on Nellis AFB. Restaurants in Las Vegas during the Pandemic opened no earlier than noon, so we had a lot of time to kill in the morning. We walked up and down Fremont Street, the Strip, and it felt as though we were the only group of people in the city. Casinos were empty throughout the day and remained empty well into the night. Being thirsty Soldiers, we visited a Speakeasy and a couple of restaurants; again, with the eerie feeling like we were the only “tourists” there. We even visited the Mob Museum and enjoyed all the history and Prohibition artifacts at our leisure!
Between multiple quarantines, working remotely, COVID tests, memorandums clearing us to leave the country, and the eventual vaccination, we continued military travel. It was impossible for my unit to cease all operations due to the Pandemic; we adjusted on the spot and continued to learn throughout the entire experience. It was impossible for me to narrow my travels during COVID to just one single memory; rather it felt like one continuous surreal dream. Today if anyone asks where or how I spent Lockdown, I have to ask, “When during the Pandemic are you referring to?”
Living in San Diego at the time, once travel restrictions were lifted, I went to Yosemite National Park as I thought being in an outdoor open-air environment would mean less COVID-19 restrictions. As an avid backpacker and nature enthusiast, I could not wait for the national parks to reopen so once Yosemite opened its proverbial doors I jumped on the opportunity, as I had never been there before. My memories of the trip are very fond ones. I remember the emptiness throughout the park. One of the COVID restrictions implemented by the park was the limitation of people who could enter on a daily basis. Due to this finite number of visitors, and me being one of them, this made the park feel fairly empty, which was amazing. Not having congested trails and camps made my trip seem like I was in some remote forest, vice one of the most famous national parks. So, besides the stunning views and crisp air, one of my primary memories is the feeling of seclusion throughout my time due to COVID-19 entrance restrictions. Also, I remember a lack of masks and overall COVID-19 consciousness throughout the park. Even though the park had a mandatory mask policy, I remember not seeing many masked people. I honestly thought the mask restriction was overkill due to the already implemented restrictions and being outside, but I did notice we all would use masks if coming near other people on trails. Yosemite still had several COVID-19 restrictions implemented throughout the part. Aside from the aforementioned entrance cap and masks, all their restaurants, hotels and general facilities remained closed. Also, they spaced out the campsites, so each camp had at least one camp space between them, limiting the sharing of space. They even closed specific trails due to the lack of workers at any given time. The park employees were few and far in-between due to a COVID-19 restriction, which meant less accessible trails since they would not supervise them all with such limited manpower. Besides that, the COVID-19 restrictions were not abundant, which was likely a product of the open-air environment.
In June 2020, I had to drive from Florida to Northern California for a new job. I didn't fly for fear of Covid and I had a car to move. The journey took me 5 days. The first day was from Tampa Florida to Mobile Alabama, the second day was from Mobile Alabama to Dallas Texas. The third day was from Dallas Texas to Albuquerque New Mexico. The forth day from Albuquerque to Cedar City Utah where my sister lives. Finally from Cedar City Utah to Truckee California. Before the trip I had isolated myself for fear of getting sick while travelling which I feared greatly. My general approach was to eat breakfast at the hotel, get lunch in a drive through, and have uber eats deliver food to my hotel for dinner. Along the journey it was interesting to see how strict the rules were depended greatly on where you were. In Texas I stopped at a donut shop for coffee and found a large group of elderly men sitting around drinking coffee and eating donuts without a single mask to be found. This group was clearly not concerned about Covid. However, when i drove through Navajo country in Arizona, the rules were very strict and only drive through food options was available and I had difficulty finding an open bathroom in the entire area as no gas station or restaurant was allowing people inside. I also remember listening to E Street Radio on satellite radio and Bruce Springsteen was reading the obituaries of people who had died. I remember that being a striking moment throughout all of this.
In January 2022, my family of three escaped the cold of the Midwest for a much-needed vacation in Disney World. We had actually planned to go in May 2021 for our daughter's fourth birthday, but had to reschedule due to unforeseen circumstances. So we went on a seven day, seven night trip during the slowest season for theme parks to avoid large crowds. We had a really good time but soon learned that Disney World is anything but relaxing! There were still COVID restrictions in place, but mainly just optional masks and social distancing guidelines. My husband and I were much stricter about our safety than others may have been, and took great care to ensure that were were all wearing properly fitted KN95 masks. We scheduled rides on the My Disney Experience app to avoid lines. We also used hand sanitizer constantly and brought an enormous bottle with us to refill our travel-sized containers. We all stayed perfectly healthy, likely due in part to the extremely limited crowds. On some days, we were able to walk right onto rides.
When travel restrictions were lifted, did you take a trip?
My spouse and I love road trips and concerts. Covid definitely slowed us down!
In the summer of 2021, we decided to take a road trip culminating in a concert in Denver, Colorado. Which concert? The Eagles - Hotel California!
We drove and camped through Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. In Denver, we toured the famous restaurant Casa Bonita and went to the concert. For the concert, everyone needed a vaccination card and masks were required (although not widely worn). It was fun and felt a little like back-to-normal. We had a great time!
We could not travel during the pandemic, but even going to see family near us was a challenge. For the length of the pandemic, I didn't visit my grandparents who lived only an hour away. Being from the family I am, travel is not something we do often due to the expense. If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would pick Australia so I could go to its infamous coastlines. I would like to see the Great Barrier Reef and maybe go on tours about the conservation of our oceans. I would like to take a surfing class and look like a complete tourist as I do so. I'd go to Australia for the water. I used to be someone who needed to take many pictures to "remember" my exploits. However, I learned I spent more time on my phone than in the place I visited. I don't take pictures on vacation anymore; I leave that to my sister and mother. Instead, I try to remember the five senses as I experience the world around me. I have nothing against documenting your trips, but aside from keeping ticket stubs and sunburns, I don't make lasting documentation except in my memory.
The pandemic was a very depressing time of limited activity that divided many by political responses. March 2020 is when the U.S. responded with stay at home responses followed by social distancing and testing. A year later in that same month of March, I was cornering my teammate for his fight for Cage Fury Fighting Championship in Philadelphia where some COVID measures still existed such as masks that we utilized on the plane and even during the warm up of the fight. Tests were required that had a swab impaled up our noses, but in hindsight it was a great experience especially as a historian where I toured many historical sites such as Benjamin Franklin's grave.
After COVID travel restrictions were lifted, my family and I seized the opportunity to visit Charleston, South Carolina to spend Christmas with my cousins. Despite the chill of December, we were able to explore the historic town at our leisure. While some shops remained open, their hours were adjusted due to the holiday season and COVID precautions. Similarly, many restaurants offered a limited menu, which disappointed my sister and me as we are both picky eaters. During our visit, we made sure to visit Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, a renowned historic house with beautiful gardens and one of the oldest plantations in the South. However, due to COVID, several attractions within the plantation were closed. It was also mandatory that we follow the necessary safety measures by wearing masks around other groups of people and inside the gift shop. Despite the limitations imposed by COVID, my time in Charleston was truly wonderful. I had the opportunity to immerse myself in the city's rich history, even if I couldn't fully explore all the places and shops as I had hoped. But most importantly, I cherished the moments spent with my family during this special holiday trip.
I was stationed in Hawaii with the Army for 3 years. Due to regulations, I was not able to participate in the many hunting and fishing opportunities that can be found there. I was discharged in 2020 just before the pandemic really started. I spent most of 2020 fighting my state for unemployment benefits and looking for a job. I did not travel during the pandemic and only afterwards for work. I want to some day get back to Hawaii and enjoy those missed opportunities. Unfortunately, I think it will be a long time before I am financially stable enough to travel.
This story relates the issues my wife and I had in dealing with Covid restrictions on a trip to Israel, just two weeks after the travel ban had been lifted. The story has no great significance except, perhaps as an example of "life is irony." While the story itself is trivial and meant to be amusing, I do share it here with a profound sense of sadness over the recent Hamas attacks and their consequences.
Being an avid traveler the Covid lockdowns provided an obstacle I couldn't overcome. I had to sit it out. Local trips in New England filed my free time but many restrictions limited the scope of availability. In March of 2021 my girlfriend and I took our first trip since the start. We went to Aruba. Her first time my 4th. Being a favorite destination I was aware of much of what the island had to offer. Yet still unsure what lockdowns meant. We had to abide by a curfew and masks had to be worn. However the trip was a warm delightful experience which was followed by more adventures.
The photograph captures a moment of my family in Helen, Georgia. It marked our very first vacation as the pandemic began to subside, and society slowly started to reopen. Throughout the challenging year of 2020, I wrestled with numerous dark and trying circumstances. My engagement dissolved, my health deteriorated, and my battle with depression intensified. I often felt isolated, with nowhere to turn for human connection, as everything around us remained shuttered. The deserted streets and vacant stores seemed to echo the emptiness I felt inside.
However, this trip to Helen breathed new life into me. For the first time in a year, I felt a spark of vitality. In Helen, I could once again frequent bustling restaurants, immerse myself in the sound of live music, and explore the welcoming shops. It marked the beginning of a remarkable turnaround in my life, which has since led to some of the most fulfilling years I've experienced. Today, I cherish even the smallest moments, such as a simple trip to buy groceries and the comforting presence of people in my life.
The pandemic lockdown ended, and businesses were opening up. There was still a sense of caution in the air. Masks and social distancing were still enforced. Still, travel started to boom again. People were going on trips by car, train, boat, and airplane. I traveled to William, Arizona.
I had driven two and a half hours from Mesa, Arizona. The travel wasn’t hectic or riddled with traffic. I had made great timing. The scenery was beautiful. Went up the mountain and saw green everywhere. It was a nice change since I live in the desert. My family and I hopped in the car and headed off on an adventure.
In Williams, a small little town was an animal sanctuary that I journeyed to. There were a diverse sort of species: wolves, bears, bison, mountain goats, and deer. It seemed to be an exciting trip. Bearizona’s park had a drive-through section, where I was able to drive to each habitat in my own car. The plus side was I didn’t have to worry about exposure to other people. I felt safe in my car.
It had seemed that everyone had the same idea to come to Bearizona. There were long lines inside the park and where I drove through the habitats. There were times that I was at a complete stop for several minutes. It appeared that the animals didn’t like all the chaos in their homes. There were people honking their horns, yelling, and rolling down their windows when that was not allowed. I sat still and waited until I could move on. The animals started blocking the entrances and jumping up on cars. They were revolted, this made other drivers laugh and roll down their windows and take pictures. There was even a little girl standing up out of the car's sunroof.
The whole experience was awful. I was not happy with the crowds. I understand that since Bearizona was a safer experience than being in a crowd walking through the zoo. I didn’t take pictures or buy souvenirs. I simply drove off in my call and headed back down the mountain. I reflect on this experience about how people were starved to travel, and stuck at home. When the lockdown ended everyone wanted to get out of their houses and go anywhere. We are used to going where we want when we want, but at the start of the pandemic life had changed for us all.
On May 6, 2020, my childhood best friend officially turned 15. It may be just another birthday for most. However, in Hispanic culture, it means a girl's shift from childhood to womanhood. Usually celebrated by parties filled with hundreds of people, princess dresses, cultural food, music, and gifts. Due to the pandemic, it was diminished to a drive-through celebration filled with masks and distance between loved ones. It was a memorable birthday; nevertheless, a significant part of the typical Hispanic cultural experience was stripped away from her.
My story talks about difficulty I experienced during the pandemic
The picture I chose to add to the archive is my first day of school on August 24, 2020. In this picture, I was laying in bed with my laptop because everything was online. If you were lucky, you got a professor that taught class on Zoom. That is the closest to being in a regular classroom as it got. You were able to see your classmates (if they turned their camera on), you could have discussions with everyone, ask the professor questions and get immediate answers. On the other hand, you could get stuck with a professor who chose to use youtube videos and websites instead of teaching. These were the worst, poor to almost no teacher-student interaction, just discussion boards and Google. It was impossible for me to learn like this, I felt like I was not being taught! It was always stressful when trying to do assignments for classes like this because I did not understand the curriculum. If I needed to contact my professor, I just had to send an email and hope they would email me back soon with answers. Sometimes, I would not get a response until days later, a few times I never got a response. After a while of this, I started to feel miserable, stressed, and depressed. My grades started getting lower and lower and knowing how much school costs, knowing that I was going to lose my grants and scholarships because I was failing, I started having anxiety attacks. In my head, I kept saying, “I cannot learn like this, I know I am going to fail, so why keep trying?” Things got to a point where I would open my laptop, look at my assignments, cry, and then just close my laptop back up. I lost all my motivation and I lost sight of my dreams to be an optometrist. I remember the day that I dropped out, the defeat that I felt, feeling like a complete failure.
At a stop light this morning, my attention was grabbed by a car with lots of writing on it. I wish I could have gotten a picture, but the light turned green before I could. The car message was about Marxism and how fear controls its movement. The message expressed that recent events have all been staged in order to control society and went on to predict that mask mandates would be back on September 15. The message ended by encouraging people to resist the future mandate in order to retain control of our society. I was very intrigued to see that there are some people who are still very vocal about topics such as this and very loudly are telling people not to live in fear when they are the only ones who seem to be living in fear these days. I read a hashtag on their car and looked it up when I got home. This page belongs to a person (or movement) that is very anti-mask, anti-covid vaccine, and anti-mandates. They are part of the extreme right politically and very religious. I’m curious to see if anything were to happen on the 15th and if not, how this page will respond to the “normality” of September 15. I guess we’ll see in two weeks.
From the beginning, I was aware that this was a world historical event and I wanted to be very attentive to how it played out, both in the news and in my personal life. I read that diaries were scarce in the aftermath of the 1917 pandemic, so it could be useful to scholars to create one this time. I reviewed it before submission, and it reminded me of many things I had already forgotten. Once I started in February 2020, I wrote every day until mid-2021, when entries began to thin out.
Ongoing internal displacement.
This doesn't need to be long I am just glad to have a way to express how incredibly disappointed I have been throughout the course of this pandemic. In the first few months after the outbreak, most of us relied heavily on the public governmental briefings by Dr Fauci and others, and we eagerly awaited the development of tests and vaccines by the pharmaceutical industry. We trusted that our government and our doctors were working earnestly to provide good solutions to a terrible problem, quickly.
But if we fast forward a few years, what a horrible change has transpired! Pretty much everyone who we trusted at the beginning of the pandemic has been proven either a downright liar or to have been working for their own private interests all along. Dr Fauci couldn't get his story straight - repeatedly - over simple matters, and lied again and again about the connection between the virus, the government, and the Wuhan virology lab. Though various remedies (like ivermectin) were decried as malicious and dangerous, we now know that the pharmaceutical companies we were busy trusting were pushing to consider the use of ivermectin medical malpractice, because they wanted an emergency use authorization for their insufficiently tested and experimental vaccines. Some of us already knew we couldn't trust our government, but most of us hoped that we could at least trust our doctors.
What a disappointment.
It was Christmas of 2020, and my eighty-four-year-old Dad was really sick. Up until then he had been healthy. He worked out at the gym every day and always went for coffee at Starbucks afterwards. I call him every day, and I could tell he was under the weather, but he didn’t want to admit he had COVID-19. He was sick for several weeks but came over on Christmas Eve to have dinner with our family. I remember being slightly irritated that he did come over because we could have brought him dinner at his house and minimized exposure to everyone else. Fortunately, our family and my sister’s family did not catch it that year. Oddly enough, we wouldn’t catch it until the following year. I remember being sort of surprised that we didn’t catch it because everyone around us had it. When the gyms and restaurants and grocery stores all closed, I would walk around our subdivision everyday to continue my exercise routine and I noticed I was tired and had shortness of breath. I remember going in for my annual physical with a face mask on and telling my doctor my symptoms. I remember him saying that those symptoms were too early to be COVID-19 and was probably a milder version of the flu. I was doubtful due to being heavily exposed by my dad, as well as so many others who had no idea they had it but were technically “super-spreaders.” My sister’s family and our family caught Covid within a week or two of each other despite not having any contact and being vaccinated the prior year. My husband and I both opted for the Johnson& Johnson vaccination because it was traditional with just the one shot. Our friend, who worked with my husband also got the same vaccination. My husband and I were sick after the shot, but we knew from friends that we would be. It lasted maybe a night and then we felt better the next day. Our friend wound up in the hospital after her vaccination with a small intestinal blockage which she blamed on the shot. She stayed in the hospital for about a week, but other than some follow-up monitoring, she is ok. Shortly after that, we read in the news that several women had died from embolisms after receiving the vaccination. Our daughter, who has special needs, sees many doctors and I remember telling him that I just gotten vaccinated and now there was this complication. He was very reassuring and said that the women who had passed away probably had a serious and pre-existing condition. He told me to stay active for the next week or two and drink lots of water which I did, but it was the longest two weeks until we were cleared from the risk. We did end up catching Covid in February-March 2022. It had been a normal week. I went to the store, gym, did carpool, walked the greenway, but I felt slightly off all week long. I remember coming home and making dinner, but I was exhausted and told my husband that I was unable to have dinner with everyone that evening. Sure enough, I was running a low fever. I took an at-home COVID test, and my results showed I was positive within a few seconds. I immediately quarantined in our bedroom for the next several days. My husband caught it about a week later, but his symptoms were different than mine. He had a bad sore throat and was cold and shivering for a couple of days, and had a cough that lingered. Our daughter, who has severe Cerebral Palsy, caught it next but thankfully she only had mild symptoms for two days and recovered almost immediately. Our son caught it last, and he had a very bad sore throat for a week.
We made it through, and consider ourselves fortunate that we recovered without long-term issues.
I have uploaded a personal story of how COVID-19 impacted my life; and how, in my mind, there is a before and after, two different sections of my life. I also observe the changes that were influenced by the Pandemic.
In the spring of 2020, my sister finished up her post-doctoral program and needed to find a job. Unfortunately, if job hunting wasn't hard enough, the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, and in-person interviews were canceled as companies went remote. After a number of Zoom interviews later, she landed a job. The only issue - that job was in California, a state that had responded to the pandemic with some of the strictest restrictions.
In July, the moving truck was loaded, we hopped into our cars and began the two-day drive from Texas to California. We had originally planned to take the southern I-10 route through New Mexico, but before we left, we learned New Mexico had implemented a 14-day quarantine for anyone entering the state. Since we weren't 100% sure if that applied to people just passing through, we decided to go the more northern route staying the night in Colorado and Nevada. While both hotels we stayed at assured us they'd taken extra precautions cleaning the rooms, we followed the CDC-suggested guideline of bringing cleaning supplies and wiping down hard surfaces when we got our rooms. I'm a bit of a germaphobe, and this was the first time no one gave me funny looks when I entered a hotel with a can of Lysol wipes.
Overall, besides wearing a mask in public, the road trip to California was similar to road trips pre-pandemic. Things got a little bit more restrictive as we got into Redwood City. Unlike in Texas, masks were required indoors and outdoors if other people were nearby. Since it was a lot cooler in California, I was mostly fine with that requirement. With most indoor attractions either closed or open only to a reservation, we decided we'd go to the beach while we waited for the moving truck to arrive. Apparently that was a popular idea, so it was hard to find a part of the beach without people around so we could take our masks off.
Besides the mask mandate, the only other restriction that impacted our trip to California was that California had closed indoor dining, so all our meals had to be eaten curbside or to-go. We found a few restaurants with outdoor seating, but mostly it was easier just to get take-away and eat it on the floor of my sister's new apartment.
Since we weren't flying and we really weren't in California to do tourist activities, traveling wasn't that difficult. However, while it wasn't difficult, it was terrifying. Our trip to California was pretty early in the pandemic, and there wasn't a lot known about Covid-19 yet. Additionally, there were countless stories on the news about people ending up in the hospital and dying from the virus. If we hadn't needed to move my sister in 2020, I don't think I would have traveled at that time. In fact, even as information came out about Covid-19 over the following months and years, I still wasn't comfortable traveling. My first trip since moving my sister was actually just this past June.